Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1977, October 9 - Monkland, Canadian Pacific Winchester subdivision.  43 cars derailed as a result of a broken axle.

From the Ottawa  Citizen 11 October 1977

Ottawa Citizen Tuesday 11 October 1977

Heat detectors could have averted crash. (with aerial photo)
Heat detectors to be installed next month might have prevented Saturday's 43-car derailment near Cornwall, Canadian Pacific officials said Monday.
A CP spokesman said a broken axle on one of the freight train's 111 boxcars was responsible for Saturday's [sic] pile-up on the Montreal-Toronto main line at Monkland.
Three hundred feet of track were torn up as boxcars crashed into each other and one was thrown in the air. All but 18 of the cars were empty and no one was injured.
An official at the scene who examined the axle said it apparently broke after overheating.
"The roller bearings run hot at times and they sometimes break."
"We're installing six new hot-box detectors between Montreal and Smiths Falls," said the official, who asked not to be named. The sensing devices would definitely detect an overheating axle, he said.
Last November, 22 cars of a 44-car Toronto-bound CP freight train went off the tracks in the same area. No one was injured.
Gordon Lark, CP's chief train dispatcher in Smiths Falls, said Monday that CP decided last spring to install the detectors.
"But they had to order parts from the United States, so they won't be operational until about November," he said.
The derailment, shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, left dozens of boxcars strewn on either side of the east and westbound tracks about 300 feet north of Monkland, a village of 150. It's 65 kilometres southeast of Ottawa, just above Cornwall.
CP Rail said freight cars littered across Highway 43 were cleared with bulldozers and cranes by work crews sent from Montreal and Toronto.
The highway was reopened by early afternoon.
Service was restored, but running slowly, on the eastward line early Monday morning. CP predicted the westward line would be usuable by the end of today.
Of the 43 cars involved in the pileup, three were carrying powdered milk and one contained charcoal bricquets, CP said. The rest were empty wheat boxcars.
Monkland resident Gudrun Spor-ring told a reporter she was at her front door checking the thermometer when she saw the train passing.
"All of a sudden I heard a grinding crash and one of the cars rose in the air and settled on top of the others. It looked just like a pile of matchboxes."
Another resident, Melvin Massis, was watching TV when his house started shaking.
"I looked out and I saw the front axle of the wheels on the car coming off," he recalled.
"The cars all started piling up, one on top of the other. One of them went up about 30 feet. It just seemed as if someone was lifting it up slowly."
The cost of the derailment will not be known for "a week to 10 days," said the CP spokesman.
An investigation of the accident will be conducted by safety officials from CP and the Canadian Transport Commission.

Ottawa Journal Tuesday 11 October 1977

Train derails, damage more than $100,000
MONKLAND (Special) Damage in the derailment of 45 boxcars from a 157-boxcar  train Sunday has been estimated by officials to be well over $100,000.
The derailment occurred in this village, about 13 miles north of Cornwall late in the morning. Eyewitnesses said it appears to have been caused by a wheel on a boxcar jumping the track.
There were no injuries but one close call was reported.
An Alexandria woman, Kathleen Joubere, was waiting in her car for the train to pass when it derailed causing over $500 damage to her car. Stones hit and destroyed her windshield and scratched most of her car.
As a result of the derailment two highways through the village were blocked and traffic was rerouted by police. Highway 43 from Chesterville to Alexandria was closed about four hours while Hwy 138, leading to Hwy 417 was closed about one hour.
CP officials said the total damage was relatively light because most of the boxcars were empty at the time. They were being brought back to Smiths Falls. from Montreal at the time.
CN [sic] officials admitted their biggest problem now will be cleaning up the mess.
Work crews are expected to stay on the scene for the next two weeks with full traffic on this main rail line expected to resume Thursday. Workmen did manage to. get the eastbound line re-opened Monday afternoon.

Cornwall Standard Freeholder 111 October 1977

Operations returned to near normal today as clean-up crews worked round-the-clock over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend repairing tracks and clearing the mess left when 43 cars of a Canadian Pacific Railways freight train hauling 111 cars were derailed near Monkland, some 20 kilometres from Cornwall.
No one was injured in the derailment.
The freight train was travelling to Toronto from Montreal, carrying a cargo of milk products and wood chips.
Only 18 of the cars were loaded.  Of the 43 cars derailed, only four were loaded, three carrying milk products and one carrying wood chips.
A CPR spokesman said today cause was a broken axle.
CPR officials say damage will run into several thousand dollars. "It will be a week to 10 days before we get some kind of estimate," a senior official said.
The derailment, shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday, blocked both eastward and westward mainline and also Highway 43.
The highway was cleared soon after the accident.  Early Monday the eastward section of the mainline was opened and CPR officials say the westward line will be reopened later today.
Passenger traffic was switched to Canadian National Railways during the cleanup.  The spokesman confirmed more than 300 feet of railway track was torn up during the derailment.
Cars Wrecked
Some of the freight cars were wrecked.  The empty boxes are usually used to carry grain.
Bulldozers from the area helped clear the tracks Sunday afternoon and Monday.  This is the fifth CP derailment in the area in the past few months and second in the vicinity of Monkland.
The last derailment in the Monkland area occurred early last November when 21 cars from a westbound freight train derailed just east of Monkland, tearing up a huge section of rail line and ripping up part of Highway 43.
Monkland residents living near the scene of the derailment said they were rudely awakened by a loud rumble thinking it was an earthquake.
Bert Sabourin, a businessman in Monkland, said the derailment shook his house.
"Trains pass from here all the time," he said. "This was the first time it shook the house."
Mr. Sabourin said he heard a loud rumble and outside his living room window he saw railcars piling up. "This is the worst pile up I have ever seen."
The business man whom has been living in the same house for the past 10 years said it was the loudest noise he had heard.
Melvin Massia, 16, a student at Tagwi Secondary School said he saw a wheel come off one of the cars.
"At first I thought it was an earthquake," he said. "But then, looking through a window across the road, I saw cars piling up.  Everything ended up in a big mess."
Mr. Massia said the impact of the derailment shook everything in the vicinity.

Montreal Gazette 11 October 1977

Tracks cleared after derailment
MONKLAND, Ont. - (CP) - Both tracks of the CP Rail main line between Toronto and Montreal were reopened yesterday after work crews removed 43 freight cars that were derailed Sunday near this community 18 kilometres north of Cornwall.
No one was injured in the accident which also blocked Highway 43. The freight train, carrying milk products and wood chips, was en route to Toronto from Montreal.
Trains used Canadian National tracks during the clean-up.

Ottawa Citizen 12 October 1977

Railroad repairs almost complete
Train traffic is returning to normal on CP Rail's Montreal-Toronto main line at Monkland.
Company officials said track repairs would be completed by noon today on the 300 feet of the westward section torn up Sunday by a derailment involving 43 freight cars.
Service has been maintained since Monday morning by running slowly.

Return to Main Page of Railway Accidents

Updated 12 October 2020